Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Rage of Moderate Islam

Khurshid Ahmad’s wrote Amrika: Muslim Dunya ki Bey-Itminani, in 2002. This book was published in Pakistan and is in Urdu. It has not been translated into English but has been reviewed in the Jan/Feb 2004 issue of Foreign Policy by Hussain Haqqani. Haqqani translated the title of Ahmad’s book as America and Unrest in the Muslim World. Haqqani entitles his review, The Rage of Moderate Islam.

Haqqani writes, “‘Ahmad argues that the United States ‘dreams of world domination, resolves to control the resources of other nations, wants to shape the world according to its ideas, and seeks to impose its values and ideology on others by force.’ Only the Islamists, he says, offer a political force capable of resisting this Pax Americana. . . .”

“Ahmad’s book comprises nine essays, four written before September 11, and five after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. In the book, he condemns the attacks but argues that the perpetrators are still unknown. ‘A glance at the history of Israel and [the] Zionist movement,’ he suggests, ‘gives credence to the suspicion of Mossad’s role in the terrorist acts.’ Like all Islamists, however, Ahmad was suspicious of Western intentions long before September 11. Two of his essays on the ‘new world order,’ originally published in 1991 and 1993, extensively cite influential conservatives such as Samuel Huntington, Francis Fukuyama and Eliot Cohen as proof of an insidious plan to create a century of U.S. dominance at the expense of other nations.”

“Ahmad’s prescription for resisting U.S. subjugation is familiar: The Muslim umma (global community of believers) must purify its ranks and become a homogenous community that can mobilize against the American-Zionist-Hindu plot. . . . The arrogance and triumphalism of the ‘American imperialists’ require a closing of ranks among all those who oppose them. . . .”

To begin with, let me say that Ahmad isn’t wrong in his main thrust, (setting aside certain Conspiracy-Theory absurdities such as the Mossad being behind the 9/11 bombing). The Neocons assumed that it would be good for the world if all nations had Liberal/Democratic governments, but Ahmad doesn’t assume that. He assumes that it would be good if all nations had Islamic governments that meet the standards of the Sharia law. From his standpoint Liberal/Democracy is a great evil, and consequently from his standpoint what he has written in his book is correct, if Haqqani is accurate.

Haqqani implies that Ahmad represents “moderate Islam.” If that were true, then the clash between the West and Islam (in Samuel P. Huntington’s sense of the expression) may be longer lasting and more violent than it has thus far been. The Neocons, even after Fukuyama abandoned them, have been convinced that Fukuyama had the right of it, that it would indeed be a Pax Americana if all nations became Liberal and Democratic. Surely everyone wants to be free of oppression and to be free to develop his potential (as Sharansky argued). Ahmad would say these assumptions are anathema to the Muslim who wants to submit himself to the Law of Allah. Freedom from the Law is appalling to him, and freedom to comply with the Law is God given.

Haqqani doesn’t support his title in his text and I wonder if it wasn’t created for him by the Foreign Policy editorial board. It is one thing to read Ahmad’s opinions and learn that he is popular in Pakistan, but it is another to be told that he is representative of “moderate Islam.” This would imply that moderate Islam sides with Islamism in matters pertaining to the opposition of the U.S. and the West. But surely, it is hoped, moderate Islam isn’t as committed to war as Ahmad seems to be. But if they are . . .

From a purely military standpoint, imagine the Apaches evaluating the presence of General George Crook in the early 1870s. The Apaches had tremendous fighting skills, but those skills were not adequate in a contest with the American Army. The Apaches weaponry was upgraded as much as possible by the acquisition of American rifles and pistols, but the Americans had more powerful weapons. From the standpoint of 2008 it is possible to think that Cochise and the Apaches never had a chance and that somehow we should have just left them alone, but that wasn’t possible. We shared a continent with them and some sort of arrangement needed to be arrived at. It was in the Apache tradition as well as in the American tradition that such matters be solved by force of arms.

Perhaps in 3008 we will look upon the Islamic Civilization in the same way. They do not have a tradition of competence in the area of modern weapons, tactics, economics or sociology. We want them to become like us, but they don’t want to. So why don’t we leave them alone, some might ask? It is too late for that, just as it was too late to leave the Apaches alone. We share a world with Islam and must find the means to get along with them; and perhaps even more importantly, they must find the means to get along with us.

The belief of the Islamists and perhaps the moderate Muslims is that Allah will give them the victory in matters that must be solved by force of arms. It is part of their tradition just as it was part of the traditions of the Apaches and the Americans that certain matters be solved in that manner. Many on the Left wish that this was not so, but they are attempting to impose the standards of a world that doesn’t exist. There are no standards that everyone can appeal to. The world is fragmented and variegated. When the beliefs of people whose ideas are inimical to ours confront us violently, the time for conjecture and debate are over. Let us then don our uniforms, take up our weapons and rush down to the field of battle. They wish to defeat us, and to subject us to their standards, but we (if we are patriotic) will not be defeated – and so we fight.

Lawrence Helm

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